Cops Offered Deeper Discounts On Ring Cameras Depending On How Much Of The Neighborhood The Cameras Would Surveil

from the sweet-goddamn-christ-wtf-is-wrong-with-you dept

“You know what would be cool,” said the consumer product that wished it was a cop? “If everything we made catered to law enforcement rather than the end user.” That’s the Ring business model: make inroads with security-conscious homeowners by inserting them into a toxic ecosystem that includes a snitch app that amps up the worst aspects of humanity, and breaks down the walls between “sharing” and “giving law enforcement agencies footage they can keep and distribute forever without limitation.”

Ring doorbells have 95% of the doorbell camera market. That’s a lot of “fuck you” market share. Ring says all doorbell camera footage belongs to homeowners, even as it renders homeowners extraneous by handing over footage stored in the cloud in response to subpoenas. Ring says it cares about the privacy of its customers, even as it tallies up doorbell rings and partners with law enforcement in sting operations.

The never ending negative news cycles continues for Ring with these details tucked away in another long, scathing report on the the doorbell company that wants so badly to be deputized, it’s willing to cross lines most tech companies aren’t willing to cross.

Caroline Haskins of Vice has been tracking Ring’s incestuous relationship with law enforcement for several months now, using a slew of public records requests to make the things Ring and law enforcement don’t want to discuss publicly public.

In her latest post — one that should be read start to finish, especially if you haven’t kept current with Ring’s endless deluge of self-owns — Haskins points out some more reprehensible behavior by the home security company that thinks it’s a domestic surveillance contractor.

Being a good citizen involves more than flying an American flag over your driveway.

West Hollywood, CA distributed flyers advertising its Ring subsidy program at voter registration events, according to documents obtained by Motherboard. West Hollywood also sold subsidized Ring products “exclusively” to residents in areas moderated by neighborhood watches. Everyone who bought a discounted camera was added to a registry list with their name and address.

Ah, there’s nothing more American than implicating the First and Fourth Amendments at the same time. The only way this would have been more American is if law enforcement asked citizens to turn over their weapons until troops were done staying at their homes.

Ask not what your [insert law enforcement agency name here] can do for you. Ask what you can do for [REDONDO BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT].

Police from Redondo Beach, CA even used the pretense of camera registries to determine who should get a discount and who shouldn’t, according to a city council meeting memo obtained by Motherboard. Police said that they inspected the facades of homes of each applicant, and looked for who had the most “optimal viewpoints that could assist with criminal investigations.”

Kind of fucked up. What makes it really fucked up is the Redondo Beach PD offered steeper discounts to homeowners who agreed to place cameras in areas where they could capture footage “of the entire block” (60% stipend) or a “neighboring residence” (50% stipend).

Meanwhile, further north, Green Bay, WI police handed out cameras to residents under a “loan” program that predicated end user “ownership” on police ownership of all footage.

The implicit ask becomes explicit. Ring has partnered with 600+ law enforcement agencies. There’s no reason to believe what’s been revealed here is an anomaly.

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Companies: amazon, ring

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Comments on “Cops Offered Deeper Discounts On Ring Cameras Depending On How Much Of The Neighborhood The Cameras Would Surveil”

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24 Comments
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That One Guy (profile) says:

'You get a camera. And you get a camera. EVERYONE GETS CAMERAS!'

Kind of fucked up. What makes it really fucked up is the Redondo Beach PD offered steeper discounts to homeowners who agreed to place cameras in areas where they could capture footage "of the entire block" (60% stipend) or a "neighboring residence" (50% stipend).

That’s odd, could have sworn one of the defenses Amazon has raised regarding Ring is that they tell people not to place them such that they capture that sort of video… memory must be acting up, as if that was the case I’m sure they’d most certainly not be okay with that sort of ‘deal’, given it could get people/politicians asking some unpleasant questions.

I can’t help but wonder, given they are very strongly encouraging people to place cameras such that they are aimed at the houses of others how they’d react to the ‘turnabout is fair play’ test. If one of the locals who was less-than-thrilled to have the police encouraging people to record their neighbors were to set up a camera recording the homes of the local police 24/7 would they be accepting or would that suddenly be invasive and objectionable?

Meanwhile, further north, Green Bay, WI police handed out cameras to residents under a "loan" program that predicated end user "ownership" on police ownership of all footage.

‘You place a camera we own in your house, one that records anyone passing by and that we control the footage of, and we pinky promise that you’ll get… a camera in your house. And maybe some footage that might help you down the line.’

What a deal.

Designerfx (profile) says:

if you want to see how bad it is look at #ringcamera

look up #ringcamera on twitter. You’ll notice a bunch of police posts going RING IS GREAT OUR PARTNERSHIP IS STRONG KEEP COMMUNITIES SAFE. Etc.
Keep in mind that this + Barr’s statement about police means: "we’ll take your footage and do something only if it helps us, but not you"

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Anonymous Coward says:

Don’t get RING and if you already have it, toss it. Look into the EUFY Doorbell Camera. It’s a better camera and better everything else, and the video is stored locally and so you have no monthly bill. You can pay for cloud storage if you want, but you don’t need to. It’ll store a week or so of data locally and you can get the data off onto your phone or whatever if you need it. There is no police snooping through your camera.

Myself, I just have a cheap $10 or so wireless doorbell I got 6 or so years ago when I got my house. Pop in the batteries and mount up. It still works. Then I have PoE cameras mounted around my house. No police access to those either. NO MONTHLY COSTS. Just how I like things.

Norahc (profile) says:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/12/ring-used-parties-swag-to-build-700-police-partnerships-report-finds/

So Ring is including GPS coordinates in the video metadata, accurate to about 1" accordong to that Ars Technica article.

Seems like a sex predator’s wet dream. Troll the Neighbors app, find an attractive target, look up their GPS coordinates and fo commit crimes while remembering to disable/destroy the doorbell camera.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Thieving

Redondo Beach resident here. About a month ago I had a $350 package stolen off my porch and then recovered by the PD, along with the arrest of the asshole that stole it, because a neighbor’s security camera captured the guy doing it, along with the tags on his car.

You won’t hear me complaining about it, but I’m sure the regulars here will quickly explain to me how the shit-stain thief’s right to commit crime and get away with it were violated or something.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bob says:

Re: Thieving

Glad the thief was caught but there is a big difference between a home owner sharing footage and the police having a backdoor into all the cameras so they can take the footage at will along with anything else they happen to grab with and without a warrant.

I want to be safe but I want my freedom more than that.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Remember, a watched citizen is a safe citizen.'

You won’t hear me complaining about it, but I’m sure the regulars here will quickly explain to me how the shit-stain thief’s right to commit crime and get away with it were violated or something.

Yes yes, and people only object to license plate readers and anti-encryption arguments because they hinder criminals. /s

Please be polite and clean up any excess straw after you’re done making your strawman with it, so as to help avoid unnecessary messes.

The objection is not ‘those poor criminals might have their rights to steal violated’, it’s ‘the police encouraging people to place cameras pointed at their neighbors, if not duping the gullible into placing cameras owned by the police into doing the same, is a serious privacy concern for those that might end up on those cameras, criminals and innocent alike, simply because they live and/or are passing through the area.’

If private citizens want to set up camera systems on their own in order to provide some security, fine.

If a private company starts to make a concerted push to get people to set up cameras that they are selling, that’s a little more concerning.

If part of the government, in this case the police, partners up with said private company in order to push for more cameras, that’s even more concerning.

If part of that push is encouraging people to point their cameras not at their property but the property of their neighbors that ramps the concern up quite a bit more, and if the cameras in question don’t actually belong to the homeowner, and are instead police property merely being placed in private property, that takes the concern up even farther.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Thieving

Rather than relying upon a neighbor to watch the front porch when anticipating a delivery, one could install an adequately sized lock box or maybe even be home at the time of delivery.

Certainly there are options other than a total surveillance society just because one expects a delivery.

If the delivery is a high cost item it usually requires a signature.

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